Coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations guidance: family and community

Information on coronavirus regulations changes relating to the family and community sector of the Northern Ireland Executive’s recovery plan.

Indoor visits      

Since Friday 24 July, up to 10 people, from four households can meet indoors in private homes.

Meeting friends and family indoors carries a higher risk than meeting outdoors. If possible, you should continue to arrange meetings with family and friends outdoors.

If you decide to meet indoors you should do so as safely as possible and follow public health advice by:

  • limiting the duration of visits
  • ensuring good ventilation
  • maintaining good hand hygiene
  • practicing social distancing where possible

The use of a face covering is also strongly advised.

Overnight stays are now permitted.

Those who are medically shielding are strongly advised to continue following the advice that remains in place for that group until the shielding period is paused on 31 July.

Meeting outdoors

Up to 30 people can meet up outdoors but you should maintain social distancing by being at least two metres apart.

Social distancing is essential to prevent further waves of the epidemic. You should avoid visiting places such as seaside resorts and popular beauty spots whenever there is a chance that large numbers of people will converge and crowds will form.

Restrictions on gatherings

The 30 person limit for gathering does not apply to gatherings of a particular nature, including those organised for cultural, entertainment, recreational, outdoor sports, social, community, educational, work, legal, religious or political purposes.

The organiser must have carried out a risk assessment which meets the requirement of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2000 and take all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission of the coronavirus.

The 30 person limit does apply to gatherings relating to indoor sports.

Face coverings

From 10 July passengers travelling on most bus, train and ferry services in Northern Ireland will be required to wear a face covering

It is strongly advised that you should think about using face coverings in particular circumstances - short periods in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not possible. 

Crucially, do not get a false sense of security about the level of protection provided by wearing a face covering. It is essential that everyone continues to:

  • practise social distancing as much as humanly possible
  • wash your hands thoroughly throughout the day
  • ‘catch it, kill it, bin it’ when you sneeze or cough

That’s still the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

Funerals/advice for the bereaved

There is an increased risk of transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) where families and communities come together following the death, from any cause, of a loved one. It is strongly advised that public health advice is followed to reduce the spread of infection.

Funeral services can be conducted in a place of worship or in a funeral home. The size and circumstances of the venue will determine the maximum number that can attend the service safely whilst observing social distancing of at least two metres, wherever possible.

It is recommended that face coverings are used for indoor services.

For information about the City of Belfast Crematorium visit the Belfast City Council website

Any mourner displaying symptoms of coronavirus should not attend a funeral as they pose a risk to others.

The Department of Health has detailed guidance for funeral directors.  

The Public Health Agency has produced a number of useful documents to help bereaved families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Advice for those shielding

From 31 July, subject to the rate of community transmission continuing to be low, individuals will no longer need to shield and should instead follow the same guidance and precautions as those considered to be generally vulnerable.

That involves taking particular care when out and about - and strictly maintaining social distancing.

Further information on pausing of the shielding guidance can be found on the following page:

Marriages and civil partnerships

Numbers attending indoor ceremonies and post-ceremony celebrations will be determined by the venue on a risk assessed basis, taking account of the individual circumstances of each and adhering to all relevant public health advice and industry guidance.

Guidance has been developed to help plan the celebrations and is available on the NI Executive website.

Childcare

The Executive has developed a plan to ensure that parents can access childcare, as and when they need it, to enable them to return to work as soon as possible.

Since 29 June, the definition of keyworker no longer applies for access to childcare. This will enable more childcare providers to reopen and help parents to access registered and informal childcare.

Housing guidance

There is information about housing matters at this link:

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